Koji says he could throw now

If Koji Uehara had to pitch right now, he could. At least, that’s what
he told pitching coach Rick Kranitz on Sunday.

Kranitz checked in with the
Japanese right-hander, who is nursing a strained left hamstring, prior to the
Orioles game in Clearwater. Koji also told Kranitz he doesn’t need much time to
be ready for April 6’s opener.

“He feels like his command is there, his arm strength is
there,” manager Dave Trembley said of Koji.  “It is still a day-to-day thing with him.”

Koji played catch on Sunday and
again on Tuesday at the team’s workout complex in Sarasota, and said through interpreter
Jiwon Bang, that there is still not detailed schedule for his progression. He
has no idea when he will throw from the mound but, in the meantime, he will
continue to work out and play light catch.

Koji did acknowledge that the
pain is “getting better” in his left hamstring and, right now, his status for
Opening Day doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy.

I’m confident he’s going
to be ready [for the start of the season],” Trembley told reporters in Jupiter
on Tuesday morning.

Still, given Koji’s long history of hamstring issues, his
latest strain deserves a closer look. I wrote on Saturday about how Uehara’s
injury could change the Orioles bullpen
outlook to open the season.  And given that the season is getting closer
and closer, it’s something that all Orioles fans should keep a watch on. 

In my opinion a Koji injury means the bullpen will have Matt Albers, Kam Mickolio and Cla Meredith, to start the season, instead
of two of the three. Will Ohman’s looking like a lock as the lefty specialist
and the other three ‘pen spots – Jim Johnson, Mike Gonzalez and Mark
Hendrickson – are already set.

Whether Koji’s injury will put him on the disabled list to start the year or not is hard to say. Only Koji knows how minor (or major) the issue is and if he could really throw right now.

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